UCR Writers Nominated for National Book Awards

Novelist Jane Smiley and poet Fred Moten are honored for their work in fiction and poetry

Jane Smiley and Fred Moten

Jane Smiley and Fred Moten are on the longlists for National Book Awards in Fiction and Poetry.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Two University of California, Riverside scholars have been nominated for prestigious National Book Awards in Fiction and Poetry.

Jane Smiley, distinguished professor of creative writing, was named to the National Book Foundation’s Fiction Longlist for her novel “Some Luck” (Alfred A. Knopf/ Random House). Fred Moten, professor of English, was named to the Poetry Longlist for his collection of poetry titled “The Feel Trio” (Letter Machine Editions).

The National Book Foundation announced 10 nominees in each of four categories – Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature – in New York on Sept. 18. Finalists will be announced Oct. 15, the winners on Nov. 19.

“It is quite remarkable that a single college would have two nominees for the National Book Award in one year,” said Stephen Cullenberg, dean of the UCR College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, where Moten and Smiley teach. “We are enormously proud of our colleagues’ accomplishments and very happy for the recognition they are receiving.”

The National Book Award is the nation’s highest honor in literature, said Andrew Winer, chair of the Department of Creative Writing. “The department is so pleased that the judges have selected Professor Jane Smiley’s remarkable new novel, ‘Some Luck,’ for the long list of this most important award. We see this as one more milestone in an astonishing writing career that is still ascendant.”

Deborah Willis, chair of the Department of English, said she is “thrilled and delighted to see Fred’s poetry get this recognition, as are all of my colleagues in the English department. Fred is well-known in the academic world as an electrifying, transformative scholar and critic in the field of African American literature and culture, but he is also an outstanding poet whose experimental, genre-bending body of work has already won honors from the Poetry Foundation, the Poetry Society of America, and the Penn Center for Poetry. It is humbling and inspiring to have Fred among us at UCR. His work as a scholar, theorist, and poet truly puts him in a league all his own.”

Smileyis the author of 13 previous novels, two collections of short stories, five works of nonfiction, and five novels for young adults. Her novel “A Thousand Acres”won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Moten is the author of “In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition,” “Hughson’s Tavern,” “B. Jenkins,” and co-author, with Stefano Harney, of “The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study.” He was recognized as one of 10 New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America. He is also co-founder and co-publisher of a small literary press called Three Count Pour.

Publishers submitted a total of 417 books for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction, and 219 books for the National Book Award for Poetry. Five judges in each category selected what they deemed to be the best books of the year. Nominated books must have been written by a U.S. citizen and published in the United States between Dec. 1, 2013, and Nov. 30, 2014.

The National Book Foundation’s mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

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